Even in what has been a stressful and somewhat of an underachieving season for the Washington Nationals, there are many bright spots. As the sample sizes get larger, and the stats reach comparable levels, it is evident that Juan Soto is the best player in the Majors with some reasonable age adjustments or none at all. With Fernando Tatís Jr. nipping at his heels, Soto is just ahead of Tatis in WAR per plate appearance. While the media is already crowning Tatis as the NL MVP, on ESPN’s Sunday Night game, Alex Rodriguez was asked to pick a player he would take between Tatis, Soto, and Ronald Acuna Jr., and ARod said he would build his team around Soto.
WAR (@FanGraphs) adjusted to 134 plate appearances gives you a top of the charts surprise given all of the plate appearance disparity:
— Talk Nats ⚾ (@TalkNats2) August 25, 2020
With Soto hitting .400, he still needs to get enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting crown, and he is just five times in the box short of doing that, and in the next few days he will be on top of the leaderboard if he continues on this pace.
Speaking of WAR and pieces, the Nats three most valuable relievers are in order: Kyle Finnegan, Tanner Rainey, and Wander Suero. A surprise entry into the Nats Top-10 players is catcher Yan Gomes. Don’t discount Trea Turner, he found his oppo stroke with power which he has never had before. He hit his first homer to the opposite field on an up and out pitch and that has been missing from his game. He has reached base safely at least two-times per game in 15 of the Nats 26 games so far.
With Soto, Turner, Gomes, Eaton, and Garcia hitting, the potential is there but Asdrubal Cabrera is struggling to get hits against right-handed pitching and is now at a .161 BA. The answer that we had in the off-season was taking a good gamble on Kyle Seager, and now that ship has probably sailed as he has turned in a good season as we projected for the Mariners. If Seager was on the Nats, he would rank second in WAR by the way.
While Bleacher Report thinks the Nats should snag the .205 batting Josh Bell who is struggling in Pittsburgh, MLB.com says the Nats need a starting pitcher. What took them so long to get to that conclusion?
We will be writing about the trade market extensively in the next six days leading up to the trade deadline. If we were to rank the needs:
- Middle of the rotation pitcher
- Third baseman upgrade and preferably bats lefty
- Lefty bullpen arm who can also get righties out (3 batter minimum)
- Fourth outfielder who dominates lefty pitching and can play RF
Now if Mike Rizzo can do 1-4 without trading any top prospects, then great. If not, don’t sell the farm for a postseason without Stephen Strasburg. We can’t blame Mike Rizzo for #1 as he didn’t anticipate Joe Ross would opt-out. We can’t blame him for #3 as he had Sean Doolittle, Roenis Elias and Sam Freeman has lefty bullpen options and they all got injured. But going into the season counting on Carter Kieboom has been alright to a point, but not great, and the fourth outfielder to spend $3.25 million on a .167 Michael A. Taylor was just ignoring the obvious. Rizzo could not foresee that Eric Thames would be in a power slump, and the negatives are floating at the surface and obvious to most analysts.
The Phillies are in town, and Bryce Harper would like nothing more than to add to the Nats’ problems. The Phillies and Nats are treading water at the bottom of the NL East. The Phillies are also the healthiest team in the East, and yet they have arguably the worst bullpen in baseball.
The matchup tonight is Erick Fedde and Jake Arrieta. Tomorrow is Patrick Corbin and Aaron Nola, and on the Thursday finale is Max Scherzer and rookie Spencer Howard. That is three righties from the Phillies facing the Nats.
We will wait and see if the Nats make any roster changes today.
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Washington Nationals
Stadium: Nationals Park, Washington, D.C.
1st Pitch: 6:05 pm EDT
TV: MASN; NBCSP; MLB App out-of-market
Nats Radio: 106.7 The Fan and via the MLB app
Line-ups subject to change without notice: